Traces N.6, June 2012

Upon This Rock

There are days when flipping through the newspapers seems like saying a rosary of Sorrowful Mysteries: the drama in Greece, Europe in a tailspin, the tragedy of the earthquake in Italy, and then the bitter sting of those headlines about "whistleblowers in the Vatican" and the papers stolen from the home of Benedict XVI. If you think of the Pope, of the sadness that he must feel in his heart, then it's difficult not to feel a sharp pain, which is certainly not helped by comments like "we are with the Pope, but some housecleaning is necessary," nor by those who remind you–even rightly–that, "after all, the Church is made up of men."
Men, of course, make mistakes. We make mistakes–there in the Vatican, in the heart of the heart of the world, in that piece of history that Christ wanted as His own forever so that He could remain in history–and here in the small or large details of our daily lives. We make mistakes. We sin. But we suffer for it. What prevents us from being overwhelmed by this pain?

Here our thoughts return to the editorial in the last issue of Traces. It was Julián Carrón's letter, published by la Repubblica in May. There, too, we hear of errors and pain. These are other errors, of a different type, but bringing on the same "unspeakable pain in seeing what we have done with the grace we have received." That letter is striking to re-read, in light of the news these days, because, in some way, it touches on everything in them. It touches on the root of the error (letting our projects, "hegemony," prevail over the fascination for the presence of Christ) and what prevents us from being overwhelmed: "Like the people of Israel, we can be stripped of everything, even go into exile, but Christ, who has fascinated us, remains forever. He is not defeated by our defeats."
He remains forever. But where?
Here is the indestructible fascination of faith. Faced with this question–"Where?"–our gaze does not go around in futile circles. It can rest on a point, a face: the Pope. You realize that salvation is there, in that linchpin that seems so fragile at first glance, but that sustains all of our own fragility, including that of those closest to the Pope. A nothing, a point that always seems like it is just about to be swept away by the storm. And yet it is there, irreducible, forever. The house built upon the rock of faith does not fall, as Benedict XVI himself reminded us recently. The "I," the person generated by faith, can tremble, but he doesn't fall–not even in times of crisis, not even in front of earthquakes. And the rock, the anchor of faith, is Peter, tenaciously irreducible enough to be able, for example, to indicate a clear road to everyone, even in these dark times.

He did it, once more, in Milan, during the World Meeting of Families. On the following pages, you will find some excerpts from Benedict XVI's speeches at that event. We invite you, naturally, to take up all of the texts in their entirety, and to study them thoroughly. But here, in this small anthology, you can detect the common thread: the continual call to a "fullness of life," to "great things," to the "joy of faith," to that "holiness, the normal path for Christians," that concerns all of us. And in everything, we find the invitation to what makes all of this possible, even in a family: the relationship with Christ.
Christ is the "fabric of personal and communal life." He is the "God who is close," capable of sustaining man and his life, even in difficult times. He is what we need, above all things, in order to raise a family, to live, to risk, to toil. We need Christ, God-made-flesh and Companion. And we need the Church, where He makes Himself present now–thanks to Peter, thanks to the Pope.